In this section:

Sexual Assault Support Services

Responsible government

  • Victoria

Fourth Action Plan actions

  • Respond to sexual violence and sexual harassment
    • 14 Deliver client-centred, trauma-informed, specialised and consistent support to victims and survivors of sexual violence.

What are we doing?

The Victorian Government funds 19 services state-wide, including 14 Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASAs), to provide support services to children, young people and adults who have experienced sexual assault. Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) are confidential and are provided to victim survivors of recent and past sexual assaults regardless of gender.

The 2021-22 Victorian state budget included $49 million over four years for support for victim survivors of family violence and sexual assault including additional counselling, support and brokerage.

The 2021-22 Victorian state budget also included $44 million over four years for a range of specialist interventions for children and young people impacted by family violence and sexual assault including sexual assault support services targeted at children and young people.

Services provided by the sector include immediate crisis support including crisis intervention, provision of information, counselling, advocacy and coordination of support with child protection, police, forensic and other medical personnel, as well as an after-hours telephone service providing counselling, information and coordination of crisis care support. Services also include follow-up, longer-term counselling, advocacy and support, as well as information regarding options and rights within the legal system and medical options, including follow-up medical treatment, assistance with managing sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy arising from the assault. Services also provide support and information to non-offending family members and support people.

In addition to the above activities, sexual assault support services also provide community education, training and specialist consultation services to relevant individuals and services to facilitate meeting the broader needs and concerns of victim survivors of sexual assault.

The 2019-20 Victorian budget allocated $7.94 million over four years for the design and implementation of an Aboriginal SASS model, to build on the 2017-18 Victorian budget investment of $750,000 per annum over two years.

The second Family Violence Reform Rolling Action Plan 2020-2023 includes a section on sexual assault and family violence, recognising that sexual assaults on women and children share the same roots in gender inequity and power imbalance as other forms of family violence.

What have we achieved so far?

  • Support for Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL) – a state-wide, after-hours, confidential telephone counselling service, which also coordinates a crisis care response.
  • Provision of state-wide support for victim/survivors of current and historical sexual assault.
  • Engagement with Aboriginal community and service providers to guide the design of an Aboriginal sexual assault service.
  • Contracting of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), an Aboriginal Registered Organisation, to develop a learning and development strategy, designed to increase the capacity of the Aboriginal workforce.
  • The establishment of three Aboriginal sexual assault services tailored for Aboriginal people delivered by Aboriginal service providers. Practice will be informed by Nargneit Birrang, the Aboriginal Holistic Healing Framework.

What is next?

  • Continuation of the design, development and delivery of a set of practice tools and sustainable specialist training package for the Aboriginal workforce by VACCHO.
  • A state-wide forum is planned for 2021 to progress the workforce development piece and elements of the new design approach which are endorsed by Koorie Caucus and the Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum.
  • Continue to work with Aboriginal service providers to develop the Aboriginal sexual assault service model and build evidence base about what works for Aboriginal communities.
  • A comprehensive whole of Victorian Government strategy to address sexual violence and harm will be developed, informed by victim survivors and developed in partnership with the sexual assault sector, the family violence sector, and other sectors. The strategy will be holistic and will span from prevention through to tertiary responses. The strategy will include implementation of the Victorian Government’s response to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s reports of improving justice system responses to sexual offending, and stalking.
  • As part of Victoria’s recovery from COVID-19, the Government has also announced $8.1 million to build the sexual assault and family violence workforce, supporting coordination of up to 240 traineeships across the state.

What difference will we make?

This initiative will contribute to the National Outcomes that Indigenous communities are strengthened and that services meet the needs of women and their children experiencing violence.

The Victorian Family Violence Outcomes Framework was published in Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s Plan for Change, which outlined Victoria’s priorities in preventing and responding to family violence, why they matter, and what constitutes success. The Victorian Family Violence Outcomes Framework is a whole of Government framework and is intended to ensure Victorian family violence reform efforts are focused on the actions that make a difference. The Victorian Government is progressing development of the framework, including through indicators and measures. In time, measurement and monitoring of Victorian family violence outcomes may also support reporting for the National Plan.

Victoria will monitor this initiative by reporting on the number of new targets (for sexual assault support services) and percentage of SASS clients receiving a response within five working days.

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